Summer is fast approaching, and you know what that means: ignore the gorgeous weather and stay inside to play an unhealthy amount of video games. Right? But perhaps you’re having a hard time deciding which games to play over the next couple of months, or even which system to boot up. Well, look no further than Wii U for its impressive lineup of carefree and fun titles that are perfect for the summertime. Let’s take a look at some hits that are worth a playthrough.
1. Pikmin 3
Summer is a time for exploration and childlike wonder, and the Pikmin series captures these themes flawlessly. Pikmin 3 introduced a number of mechanics to the traditional Pikmin formula including the ability to control three characters at once, which allowed for a more diverse puzzle element that required teamwork. My favorite thing about the Pikmin series is its ability to make the ordinary extraordinary through the perspective of the tiny playable characters, making the environments in the game seem vast and treacherous when in reality they take place in only a few square feet of space. It reminds me of going on adventures in the summertime as a child, braving the perils of the woods with my friends and exploring the unknown. Pikmin 3 restores your childish sense of curiosity through its focus on perspective and the aura of mystery that comes from the seemingly endless landscapes of its giant world. It’s like drinking straight from the fountain of youth and, not to mention, the water in this game is absolutely gorgeous. Speaking of water…
2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Whether it’s taking a boat out on the lake, hitting the beach with family and friends, or playing a game of Sharks and Minnows in the local pool, water is a big part of what makes summer so much fun. Being on the water is a calming and liberating experience that no summer would be truly complete without, which is why The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is No. 2 on my list. At first, this 2002 GameCube remake made me hesitant, but the updates and improvements make it such a great choice. Cell-shaded water has never looked so good! The exhilarating feeling of braving the seas on your sentient sailboat, The King of Red Lions, is an unparalleled experience in the Zelda series. Epona is a lot of fun in Ocarina of Time, and the wolf sequences in Twilight Princess offer a unique change of pace, but neither of these mounts provide the level of virtual freedom when compared to The King of Red Lions. With all of the graphical improvements The Wind Waker HD has to offer over its predecessor, my personal favorite is the enhanced lighting effects. Despite the game’s cartoonish art style, the sun in this game is incredibly realistic and makes all of the bright colors in the environment pop magnificently, further raising its legitimacy as a summertime candidate. If rich sunshine and the open ocean are your idea of summer, then this game is for you!
3. Rayman Legends
I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that exhibits as much joy and positive energy as Rayman Legends. It has it all — luscious environments, colorful characters, engaging level design, and a beautiful score. My personal favorite pieces of music in the game lie within the water levels. These sections span from energetic and upbeat to dark and foreboding. Another aspect of this game that makes it perfect for a summer playthrough is its nearly flawless take on cooperative side-scrolling. Rayman Legends eliminates a lot of the more stressful mechanics of most co-op platformers by setting fair checkpoints and encouraging players to work together rather than against one another through shared collectibles and a more simplified take on the “bubble-popping” method of reviving fallen friends, as seen in the New Super Mario Bros. series. But if you and your friends get into a dispute while playing the game, you can settle it over a game of Kung Foot, a surprisingly addictive mini-game that plays like a cross between 2-on-2 street soccer and a mosh pit. If you’ve got a case of the summertime blues, be sure to pick up a copy of Rayman Legends.
4. Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World is unique for one big reason: cooperative 3D platforming. The co-op aspect of this game is magical. You can choose between four characters to control — Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad — with a secret fifth unlockable character available later on. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, which varies gameplay and places significance on your choice of character based on your play style; Mario is the most balanced, Luigi can jump the highest but has shoddy traction, Peach has a short jump height but can momentarily float in the air, and Toad is the fastest. There are also a lot of diverse power-ups in the game such as the Super Bell, which transforms your character into their cat form and allows them to scale walls and run quicker, and the Double Cherry, which lets you take control two characters at once. But the main thing that makes Super Mario 3D World one of my favorite games to play in the summer is its colorful art style and music. The co-op is wild and exciting and the levels are intuitive and diverse, but the colors and sounds in this game are what set it apart. There’s even a beach section that shows off the game’s beautiful lighting and water effects. Personally, this game is the best cooperative experience that Wii U has to offer. If you’re looking to kick back with your friends and enjoy some classic Mario platforming, I can’t recommend this game enough.
5. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
The Donkey Kong Country series has always been known for its intriguing level design and interesting visuals, and the franchise’s newest entry is no exception. Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze is a wonderful 2D platformer that uses varying character mechanics and out-of-the-box levels to make for an unforgettable experience. But it is the theme of this particular title that makes it such a good summertime game; Donkey Kong’s sunny tropical stomping grounds are being overrun by a clan of penguins who curse Donkey Kong Country with a drastic change in temperature, causing the jungle to freeze over. As the game progresses, the landscapes become more and more encased in ice, and it’s up to Donkey Kong and his family to restore the warm climate to their home. This game celebrates warm summer weather while condemning the harsh cold to come, much like a child basking in the sun while putting off the harsh thought of going back to school. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the perfect game for basking in the glory of summer.
What games are you looking forward to playing this summer? Let us know in the comments section below. Have a great summer, everyone!